NYU faces major legal challenge over alleged antisemitism

It asserts that despite NYU’s commitment three years ago to address and ameliorate campus antisemitism, the university has instead enhanced its antisemitic reputation, intensifying the hostile and intimidating atmosphere for Jewish students.

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New York University (NYU) is currently embroiled in a significant legal challenge, marking the beginning of what is anticipated to be a series of lawsuits against prestigious universities. The lawsuit, filed by the prominent New York City law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres, accuses NYU of allowing antisemitism to proliferate inside its campus and deliberately exacerbating a hostile environment for Jewish students.

“NYU is among the worst campuses for Jewish students, and NYU has long been aware of the festering Jewish hatred permeating the school,” the suit filed by Kasowitz Benson Torres, an influential firm based in New York City, said. 

The legal action highlights alarming claims against NYU, alleging that the university’s administration either failed to take action or actively contributed to the growth of antisemitism over the years.

It alleged that NYU was aware of the “ongoing and disgraceful acts of anti-Jewish bigotry” and refused to act in violation of Jewish students.

The lawsuit asserts that despite NYU’s commitment three years ago to address and ameliorate campus antisemitism, the university has instead enhanced its antisemitic reputation, intensifying the hostile and intimidating atmosphere for Jewish students.

“In fact, shockingly, NYU has done the opposite—it has deliberately sought to burnish its antisemitic credentials and make the campus environment even more hostile and frightening for Jewish students,” it said.

According to the lawsuit, Jewish students at NYU are frequently subjected to deeply disturbing and hateful chants, which include the controversial slogan “from the river to the sea.”

The severity of antisemtiism

It also likened the severity of the antisemitism problem at NYU to the Nazi propaganda campaigns on college campuses in pre-war Germany, suggesting that NYU’s actions violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“In enabling this campus antisemitism—which spews the same anti-Jewish vitriol the Nazis propagated eighty years ago—NYU has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also addresses the aftermath of the October 7 attacks by Hamas, during which terrorists invaded Israel, leading to civilian deaths, torture, and rape.

It alleges that in the wake of these attacks, numerous students and faculty members at NYU openly supported Hamas and its actions. Hamas is recognized as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department. 

“Numerous students and faculty members at NYU have openly and enthusiastically endorsed Hamas’… massacre and applauded Hamas—which the US State Department has designated a foreign terrorist organization,” the lawsuit said.

Lawsuit cites professor’s alleged endorsement of Palestine

The lawsuit specifically mentioned Professor Eve Tuck, who allegedly endorsed the “Palestinian resistance” shortly after the attacks and later signed an open letter defaming Israel.

“NYU did not censure or terminate Professor Tuck—as it has done for far less egregious conduct where antisemitism was not involved—but remained silent for a month, when it belatedly issued a statement on her behalf purporting to condemn Hamas’s terrorism—which, given her previous statements, could not have been more disingenuous,” it stated.

The lawsuit argues that the October 7 attack further inflamed an already volatile antisemitic environment at NYU, which had been fostered through years of the university’s tolerance and endorsement of antisemitic activities.

It highlights that Jewish students at NYU have reported feeling unsafe and subject to relentless harassment, yet the university has allegedly failed to take sufficient action.

“The horrific October 7 attack… lit a match to an already combustible antisemitic campus environment that NYU had created by tolerating and green lighting antisemitic activity for years,” the lawsuit said

The legal document elaborates on the extensive harassment and intimidation Jewish students face at NYU, purportedly with the implicit or explicit support of some faculty members.

It claims that due to the university’s actions and inactions, antisemitism at NYU is thriving like never before, endangering the safety and well-being of its Jewish student population.

The lawsuit paints a concerning picture of the daily challenges Jewish students face at NYU, alleging that they endure constant verbal and physical harassment, threats, and intimidation. It also accused NYU administrators of ignoring, delaying, or downplaying students’ complaints about antisemitism.

This lawsuit against NYU is a significant development in the broader context of addressing antisemitism on college campuses. It underscores the necessity for institutions of higher education to actively and effectively combat hate and bigotry in all forms to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all students.

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